Kobo Arc review

10 Jan 2013

An affordable, good-quality compact tablet, but it’s undermined by a few small weaknesses

Price when reviewed 
160
Buy it now for 
4

Until now, small tablets have been divided into two clear camps: colour ebook readers, tied down to the manufacturers’ own stores and content offerings; and all-purpose tablets, designed with a more flexible front-end. The Kobo Arc is the first we’ve come across with its feet in both.

On the Kobo and WHSmith website, the Kobo Arc is marketed as an ebook reader with a colour screen. In this regard it’s a direct rival for the Amazon Kindle Fire HD and Barnes & Noble Nook HD. It comes complete with reading and store apps linked to the Kobo store, which Kobo clearly wants you to buy content from, a fact reinforced by the presence of a recommendations bar running along the bottom of the screen. This recommends Kobo books and other content based on shortcuts and other items you’ve pinned to the homescreen.

Kobo Arc

Yet, despite this, the Arc bears more similarities to a standard compact Android tablet, such as the Nexus 7, than to a colour ebook reader. Although it’s preloaded with the Kobo store, you’re not tied down in any way. That’s mainly due to the fact that the tablet comes with Google Play preinstalled, meaning it’s entirely possible to run the Amazon Kindle reading app and the Nook app alongside Kobo’s software.

That gives the Arc a major advantage over the Kindle Fire HD, and the front-end is more flexible, too. You can drop links to books, web pages and apps onto the homescreen just as you can with any standard Android tablet.

There are some tweaks, though. The screen scrolls continuously left to right, rather in single, discrete leaps, and a series of large square tiles give access to a series of what Kobo calls “tapestries” – essentially a collection of themed sub-home pages. The tablet comes preloaded with Reading, Entertainment, Social and Browsing tapestries, but you can also set up your own.

Kobo Arc

The recommendations bar isn’t particularly helpful. None of its suggestions were particularly appropriate, and as they’re mostly a series of plain thumbnail images, it’s difficult to decide whether to tap them or not.

The preloaded Kobo reading app is better. Along with the usual font and background options, Kobo incorporates social networking features, allowing readers to post and read other readers’ comments on the book they’re currently reading. Book stats let you view how many times a book has been read, and even who’s reading it right now.

Detail

Price ex VAT
Price inc VAT 16GB, £133 (£160 inc VAT); 32GB, £158 (£190
Warranty 1yr on-site
Overall rating 4
Performance 4
Features & Design 3
Value for Money 4

Physical

Dimensions 120 x 12 x 188mm (WDH)
Weight 364g

Display

Primary keyboard On-screen
Screen size 7.0in
Resolution screen horizontal 800
Resolution screen vertical 1,280
Display type IPS
Panel technology IPS

Core specifications

CPU frequency, MHz 2MHz
Integrated memory 16.0GB
RAM capacity 1.00GB

Camera

Front-facing camera? yes

Other

Upstream USB ports 1
HDMI output? no

Software

Mobile operating system Android 4.0.4

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